Last week, co-founder Gayle Hardie spoke at the Australian Medicare Local Alliance Corporate Executives Conference where her workshop, The Emotionally Healthy Leader, was very well received. We were overwhelmed by delegates wanting to buy the book and discuss how we could work with their business to strengthen leadership. See her presentation (Prezi) here.

We are continually encouraged by the wonderful reception and engagement with emotionally healthy leadership when we speak at conferences and workshops. There is clearly a growing awareness and appreciation of the ‘vertical’ development of leaders and this is strengthened by numerous blogs and articles written about it over the last few years. The Center for Creative Leadership released a much quoted white paper in 2012,  ‘Future Trends in Leadership Development‘, which identified four future trends:

  • More focus on vertical development
  • Transfer of greater developmental ownership to the individual
  • Greater focus on collective rather than individual leadership
  • Much greater focus on innovation in leadership development methods

This was followed up by another white paper in 2013 dedicated entirely to vertical development: ‘Vertical Leadership Development: Developing Leaders for a Complex World‘ which features this great summary of why developing self-awareness in leaders is so important:

“Traditionally, leadership programs have focused mainly on horizontal development. What is it that leaders need to learn, and how do we give them that? At first this sounds sensible. But if your leaders already know what great leaders do and still can’t do it, what value is there in telling them again? What if the problem isn’t what the leader knows, but who the leader is?”  

We would take this one step further and highlight that this kind of development is not something that can be achieved through ‘thinking’ or ‘knowing’. It requires presence and self-awareness in one’s own experiences; it needs deeper awareness of one’s responses and reactions, and the impact they have on others.

Other great readings on the topic:

A New Era for Global Leadership – Bill George, Harvard Business Review, 2012

The Future of Leadership Development – Lotta Wallin, Changeboard Blog, 2013

Unleasing New Levels of Vertical Leadership – Alan Littlefield, Institute of Leadership and Management, 2013